AMCs Violating TILA and C&R Fee Clauses

AMCs Violating TILA and C&R Fee ClausesFellow Appraisers, the appraisal industry has been facing a major issue with AMCs violating the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Customary and Reasonable fee clauses. This has not only caused harm to consumers but also to appraisers who are struggling to make a living. Despite efforts to bring this issue to light, it has been largely hidden from the public and regulators. However, it is time to change that and reveal the truth about what is really happening. To do so, we need to gather more data and evidence to establish a pattern of violations for these bids and “proposals“. This is why an excel sheet has been created for individuals to fill out with specific information such as dates, addresses, lenders, AMCs, and fees.

For the past year, there have been ongoing efforts to address the issue of AMCs violating TILA and the Customary and Reasonable fee clauses. While a significant amount of information has been gathered, it is not enough to truly showcase the extent of the problem. This is why it is crucial for appraisers to come forward and provide their own experiences and data. We understand the fear of retaliation and being blacklisted by AMCs, but rest assured that the information provided will not be shared publicly. It has a specific purpose of bringing to light the truth about what is happening and taking back control of our profession. Many of you will know the individuals who have been working on this, while some of you will just be finding out about this. If we want to see real change and put an end to these violations, we need to show it with significant data and evidence.

The damage caused by AMCs violating TILA and the Customary and Reasonable fee clauses goes beyond just financial losses. It affects the credibility and integrity of the appraisal industry as a whole. Consumers are being misled and overcharged, while appraisers are being underpaid and undervalued. This not only harms the individuals involved, but also has a negative impact on the housing market and the economy. By gathering and presenting concrete data, we can show the true extent of the damage and demand for change. It is time to take a stand and fight for fair and ethical practices in the appraisal industry. Let us come together and show the truth of what is happening, for the sake of both consumers and appraisers alike.

Click here or here (for Google Drive) to download the excel sheet. Fill out the excel sheet and submit it below.

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    81 Responses

    1. Avatar Pat says:

      Please post this EVERYWHERE!!!
      Please participate!!
      It’s your duty and future

      10
    2. Avatar Kimberly DeFilippis says:

      Wouldn’t this be easily addressed by showing the VA fees for each region?

      12
      • Avatar Uweresayn says:

        They want to show that borrowers are being overcharged and misled by looking at the total fee paid by the borrower and collected by the AMC, as well as the fee paid to the appraiser. For example, the borrower paid $900 and the appraiser received $250.

        7
        • Avatar Spencer Paul says:

          I get what they are trying to do, but it seems like a risk exposing the address that we have worked on and USPAP.

          0
          • Avatar Uweresayn says:

            Sharing fee information on an appraisal assignment is not a USPAP violation. Where in USPAP does it say otherwise?

            6
            • Avatar Spencer Paul says:

              Not the fee that I’m worried about. It is the address and engagement letters that are associated with the those assignments about not discussing which assignments we have or have not worked on. Actual legal issues.

              0
            • Avatar Russell says:

              I believe It is if the AMC, Client/Lender says you cannot divulge it or anything in the engagement or appraisal. Be very careful and contact your E&O for guidance.

              0
              • Or take a USPAP class and pay attention to what it says about confidentiality.

                We are expected to be able to read and understand the rules that we operate under.

                You will understand the nuances better if you research it yourself instead of counting on E&O “just to be safe dont do it” type explanations.

                2
                • Avatar Dave says:

                  Hey Mike – last I knew taking USPAP is mandatory, so your sarcastic “threatening” remark is frankly arrogant. There are always work arounds to preserve confidentially. It’s not like we signed a non-disclosure agreement wth the soon to be out of business AMC industry. The lenders think they can do it better! Hello Appraisalport! Who do you suppose is pushing hard to cut appraisal fees in half. THE LENDERS! Wake up and smell the roses. Similarly, why does USPAP look nothing like it did 15 years ago – THE LENDERS. Why do you suppose the Appraisal Foundation is OK with “desktops” THE LENDERS! Have a little respect for an extremely talented profession!

                  1
              • Avatar Frustrated Appraiser says:

                No one can keep the appraiser from disclosing their fee in the appraisal. Some states actually require it be disclosed
                Knowledge is power.

                0
                • Avatar Honest Appraiser says:

                  Problem is “where” it is disclosed… it is never in the same place so there is zero chance of tracking or it even being noticed. I ask we are required to include an invoice as page 1 of every AMC report. Truth in Lending??

                  0
          • Avatar Seneca says:

            Yep, But the article was a good Rah-rah speech. When the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor! Forget it, He’s rolling.

            1
          • Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

            Incorrect. Reread the rule on confidentiality. Also exceptions. Sales & refinances are recorded public record transactions. Further, complaints do not violate confidentiality.

            Particularly when they are being gathered for a federal oversight agency by those requesting the data.

            9
    3. Avatar D Taylor says:

      This issue has been going on for YEARS, since HVCC. About 4 years ago I stopped working for AMCs because I was tired of sharing my fee with them. My fee schedule has always been the most current VA fee schedule. I have also stated that if lenders followed the VA formula of assigning appraisals there would be NO NEED for AMCs. For these 4 years, I have done predominantly VA work with some Conv/USDA via Mercury Network. I DO NOT miss the AMCs or their constant threats to NOT send me work if I don’t do as they TELL me to do.

      11
    4. Avatar Dave says:

      Here we go! Let’s all get behind this. Like others I have intentionally dramatically low balled request for bids only to see it go elsewhere – I mean redicuously low. Something is going on; and as all of you know, I think FANNIE is involved via Lyle Rieke.

      10
    5. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

      For those that this applies to I support the effort, but with most states not requiring the disclosure of the AMC fee in the report most will have no idea of what the borrower is paying. Purposely made difficult to hide the crime.

      On a side note, the new game in town is for direct lenders (non AMC’s) to bid work out and assign at a rate that is much lower than quoted to the borrower. For those in the know, are lenders required to reduce the charges to the borrower, or can they legally keep the spread?

      Seek the truth.

      9
    6. Avatar ej says:

      Can this also be filled out for direct lenders who bid out assignments? I have seven that were rejected since November from a lender who goes through RIMS

      3
    7. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

      To partially address the difficulty of determining what borrowers are truly paying for the appraisal, let me suggest the following. In cases where there are concessions for closing costs, instead of simply noting the amount in the report I’m now going to ask for proof of the expenses. My hope is I would be provided with the loan estimate which would in turn make note of the appraisal fee.

      I think there might be a good argument to withhold delivery of the appraisal until such information is provided.

      Seek the truth.

      4
      • I think you would need the HUD statement that they do at closing. The attorneys apply the credit to the itemized expenses on the HUD. They wouldn’t have that put together at the appraisal stage. They do it a few days before closing. It’s a risk to ask real estate agents to find out or ask borrowers to look it up. (Most won’t even know). They usually have wording in the engagement letter not to discuss appraisal fees with borrowers.

        0
    8. Avatar Seneca says:

      Do any other industries have a Customary & Reasonable Fee law? And what does it mean? If one plumber under bids another it’s all cool. But when another appraiser under bids another we cry foul? What are we really expecting from this law?

      2
      • Avatar D Taylor says:

        The simple answer is that AMCs have no business telling us WHAT WE SHOULD charge for our work. If you hire a plumber, you usually get 2-3 bids and decide for yourself which plumber you want to use. No 3rd party company is telling the plumber what he will get paid for his work. That decision is between you and the plumber.

        7
      • Seneca, this is not about appraisers competing for lower fees. It’s about AMCs overcharging and deceiving consumers. There’s no justification for an AMC to take more than half of the appraisal fee.

        Recently, we saw an order from an AMC that was keeping 70% of the $1200 fee, leaving only $350 for the appraiser.

        10
        • Avatar Seneca says:

          Blogs Team, Technically isn’t the lender overcharging the consumer? Aren’t they the ones collecting the fee? Aren’t they the ones contracting an AMC to do appraiser compliance, review & other clerical stuff instead of having their own department? How is it different than a business contracting a janitorial/maintenance company instead of having their own. Or an auto body shop send parts to another company to be chromed? Or contracting a payroll company? Yes, I think it sucks. But isn’t all this just outsourcing?

          1
          • Avatar Anonymous says:

            The Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines clearly state that the AMC is an agent of the bank/lender. And, the bank/lender is responsible for ensuring any 3rd party vendor they use for ordering appraisals complies with all federal laws. The AMC sets the fee to charge to the consumer and supplies a TRID that informs the lender what to disclose in the Good Faith Estimate.

            Essentially, both Lender/AMC are responsible for the AMCs actions and all violations. But, you have to stop comparing a free market to a regulated market. The government requires a zero tolerance appraisal fee to be quoted within three business days of a completed loan application. It’s this rule along with AIR and a lack of disclosure laws that have created this fiasco.

            Once a lender/bank chooses an AMC then you are forced to sign up and go through them. The fact these AMCs are now also hiring and prioritizing their own staff appraisers is another issue with anti-competitive practices.

            9
          • Avatar Pat Turner says:

            No it’s not just outsourcing because of Dodd Frank

            1
          • Avatar Maria says:

            The law is still valid: appraisers need to be paid customary and reasonable fee. It is the mortgage company’s job to make sure appraisers are paid per the law. Outsourcing doesn’t eliminate the responsibility, like even the work is outsourced, the mortgage company is still responsible to find the most knowledgeable appraiser for the particular property… not the cheapest one.

            1
      • Baggins Baggins says:

        The analogy is flawed. With amc’s, cost savings for reduced cost of appraisal services are not returned to the consumer. Rather what should have been cost savings for the consumer are instead pocketed by the amc in secret, neither the consumer nor the appraiser knows what the amc secret fee rake is. Defined in existing law as a junk fee or unearned fee billing scheme.

        Appraisers whom participate in this system are in violation of USPAP The Management Rule, and providing ”a thing of value’ to the client, in order to be selected ahead of other appraisers. They know very well they are participating in concealing transparent billing from consumers, they agree to as much in amc engagements. They know when they reduce the appraisal fee, the amc company keeps the difference, the very financial incentive, why that appraiser gets all the work ahead of other appraisers.

        Where as with alternative more honest models like lenders or VA panel whom have fair fees set per region, all appraisers get that same base standard fee and there is no financial incentive to drive the appraisers fee down, drive the consumers fee up, and secretly pocket the difference. In fact, those same fee tables are what they pay the amc’s and bill the customers for, prior to the farming out of the order for discounted appraisal services. Discounting for amc volume is nothing short of a gratuity fee or a bribe.

        Federal Registry guidance previously clarified that entities whom assign appraisal orders, must not assign solely based on fee, but rather skill, experience, qualification, merit, and geographic competency.

        Read the actual rules.
        https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2011/12/22/2011-31715/truth-in-lending-regulation-z
        Control +F for the word search tool. Enter the term; appraisal. ‘Please advise when the fictitious safe harbor rule pertaining to C&R billing will be rescinded.’

        Anti Trust and how amc companies force appraisers to abide these unethical engagements, or if we do not accept to participate with their non transparent billing practices, we’re excluded from the majority of the GSE lending marketplace for appraisal orders Unlawful restraints and monopolies. Price fixing. Collusion. Racketeering.
        https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/sherman-anti-trust-act

        Post this again I suppose.

        7
      • Yes. There are both federal and state laws covering minimum wages.

        As appraisers we try to make a certain gross fee per hour. Typically its $100 (low) per hour to $150 for typical GSE work. Some if us charge significantly more based on our license levels, experience and quality.

        In many instances we run into scope creep or undisclosed issues that take far more time than anticipated.

        Normal good quality work takes 6 to 8 hours. Complex work can easily take 10 to 20 hours..

        Prices are fixed between the lender and the AMC long before an order is placed.

        Appraisers only getting $500-$550 are lucky if they gross $100 per hour. Those being paid only $250-$350 are netting less than minimum wage laws when it takes 15-20 hours. At 10 hours they are scraping by.

        Some will take short cuts. Quality suffers.

        Many of us now refuse GSE loan appraisals completely. We can earn much more doing non GSE non FRT work.

        6
    9. Avatar Older and maybe Wiser says:

      Show the VA fees for each region.

      This is public information and is a good base fee for most appraisal reports.

      4
      • Avatar Uweresayn says:

        How will this show that the AMC is overcharging the consumer?

        They need to know the borrower’s total fee and the appraiser’s payment.

        5
        • Avatar Anonymous says:

          Without saying how, they do have this information from many of the biggest offenders.

          4
          • Avatar Frustrated Appraiser says:

            yes. A host of pond scum companies. However, more is needed, that is why this article is being shared.

            0
        • Avatar Older and maybe Wiser says:

          It won’t. It will only help appraisers to receive an honest working fee. Customary and Reasonable fee’s could be based off already established VA fee’s that are available to the public. My comment ONLY addressed the Customary and Reasonable part. Sorry.

          0
    10. Avatar Spencer Paul says:

      Are there any concerns about USPAP report and communication rules to stating what houses you have complete appraisal work on and your client lists? Also not every AMC discloses what they make each file. Class Valuation does not disclose this information. Frisco and Solidifi are the only ones that I work with that do. Any advise?

      2
    11. Avatar Anonymous says:

      The information being provided is going to peers who are bound by USPAP and the same ethics to protect the information. Who it will be shared with are entities it can be shared with without violating USPAP as well. In regards to the service agreements, they wrote them that way for a reason to hide this information. There is a reason the submissions are being done this way as well so it isn’t tied to someone’s email. Trying to protect everyone who submits the information, but if we don’t submit it, they keep getting away with it.

      7
    12. Avatar Rob says:

      AMC’s are a plague on our profession. Any appraiser that owns or works for an AMC should be ashamed of themselves.

      7
      • Avatar Spencer Paul says:

        There is not enough non-lender work to stay ahead of the bills. There are far to many clients that think using and AMC benefits them to ignore them all.

        1
        • Avatar Seneca says:

          AMCs are good for new appraisers who need time to build up clientele. AMCs have 100’s of millions of dollars in fees per year sitting on the table. It’s up to you if you want some of it.

          1
          • Avatar Frustrated Appraiser says:

            No. That comment is completely false. If things are working as they should, there is no need for AMC’s at all. Cop out. No lender is required to use an AMC. They can handle this from within.

            0
        • Baggins Baggins says:

          If appraisers refused to offer their services through amc’s, and instead made themselves available to lenders directly with a clear message they do not work for amc’s, there is a higher probability that lenders would assign the work to appraisers directly instead. Lenders, mortgage wholesalers, have options to send to either an amc or via direct panel appraisers. Lenders have different approaches, some have flexibility how appraisal requests are routed, others have fixed rules. If the lender has enough amc appraisers, they offload the cost of appraisal order handling to the amc whom passes that cost down to the appraiser in the form of a reduced appraisal fee (cost savings are not returned to consumers). If they don’t have enough amc appraisers, the orders go directly to the appraisers on panel or through a platform like Mercury instead. Supply and demand factors, market driven forces. We don’t need an industry wide boycott to pull more lending work back to appraiser direct. All we need is more appraisers to individually boycott the amc model and market to lenders directly instead.

          5
    13. Baggins Baggins says:

      The information wanted is present in complete loan package data, held by the CU system, for every successful loan processed through that systems since the CU system went live. FHFA, Fannie, Freddie, and HUD, have authority over the amc’s to demand disclosure of the appraisal service fee breakdowns, if the CU data was not detailed enough, and they wanted to review specific appraisal fee breakdown information. State boards have the authority to audit amc’s as well. Three out of four appraisers nationwide whom refuse to work with amc’s because of these unfair cost structures, are unable to participate in this survey.

      4
    14. Avatar PJTMC says:

      Can we list the information without the address and state the other information is in the appraisers work file and can be provided under a jurisdictional exception if obtained and requested?

      Also, my security software has advised I should not go to the site for the excel form. Can this be obtained at another location? Otherwise, I’m unable to participate.

      1
    15. Avatar Dave says:

      Baggins – you’re usually pretty thorough. Remember Dodd Frank. It will take years to bypass the AMCs if they are still in business at the end of 2024. kudos to the profession for jumping on this band wagon. Most all established appraiser’s have experienced getting offers at half or less than a year ago and now realize it is systemic and very possibly organized! Let’s nominate Baggins for one of the vacant seats on the Foundation!!!!

      2
      • Baggins Baggins says:

        Oh no. That’s very kind of you to say that, thanks though. I’m just a regular guy whom is good at internet research, and happens to be an appraiser. I can neither confirm nor deny that I have ever completed ‘an appraisal’.

        What is happening here is an after the fact attempt to recreate The Appraisal Advisor. The AA project was the reason Corelogic offered such an incredible buy out amount to Dave Biggers, the appraisal industry at the time was rife for exploitation. They were dead on too, the amc industry has siphoned what is likely billions of dollars and redirected that away from appraisers pockets ever since. The amc industry boasted and bragged about unprescidented growth and business accolades, while simulataneously driving well over a hundred thousand small businesses into extinction, and causing prohibitive market conditions which rendered most appraisers unable to train. The amc industry is the reason the appraisal industry is not very diverse; amc’s did all the hiring for the past decade and a half while appraisers fled the industry and relinquished their licenses at a breath taking pace which averages just about 24 licensed appraisers quitting every single day, for the past 15 years. Who will be next?

        https://appraisersblogs.com/two-cheers-4-an-evolved-beltway-entrepreneur-david-bunton

        3
        • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

          So if we all recreate AA will they buy us out? Could make for an attractive retirement plan for all appraisers.

          3
    16. Avatar Dave says:

      Seneca – Most AMCs we do business will NOT use a new appraiser without three years fully licensed experience. Go figure 3 to train and 3 with a full license = 6 years.

      1
    17. Avatar Dave says:

      Hold on – Every loan applicant is supposed to get a copy of the appraisal; and, in Vermont the law requires disclosure od the appraisal fee. Soooooooo, the applicant knows!

      1
      • Avatar Spencer Paul says:

        Yes, but just because you have knowledge does not mean you have context to why it is wrong. There is not reason to have an AMC. They have been proven to show they don’t provide a service. They run the reports through the same CU, UDCP, etc that the client’s UW already run it through. They are nothing more than middle men charging the borrower nonsensical fees. These are junk fees that dominate the entire US and should not be taking place. Context is everything.

        2
      • Avatar Anonymous says:

        That’s if they read the report into the addendum where it is listed. And if it doesn’t fully disclose Appraiser -$350, AMC – $750 then most don’t put two and two together. But, most states in the US have no fee disclosure requirements of any kind and realistically the fees need to be disclosed separately on the Settlement Statement to plainly spell it out.

        4
    18. Avatar ej says:

      An Excel file has been sent. Appraisers, please send in the information.

      10
    19. Avatar Dave says:

      Hey Baggins – Let’s do a deep dive on this Lyle Rieke guy corrupting FANNIE – We need to know more about his bogus background!

      3
      • Baggins Baggins says:

        That’s more of a job for Mr Jeremy Bagott, popular appraiser article writer. You can find him on twitter and hopefully the blogs here will catch up with a few more of his articles. That’s all he does, deep dives and informational disclosures. I’m a part timer these days.

        2
    20. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

      I still believe that the key to wiping out AMCs is to nail them on this very issue with multiple charges of mail fraud or wire fraud. Each time the HUD1 is transmitted via one or the other they will in incur a huge fine. Use the federal laws in place and you have solved your problem.

      8
    21. Avatar Anonymous says:

      As a follow up, they want all AMC information regardless of if you have what they charged the consumer or not. They have the information for many of the AMCs and can fill in the blanks.

      4
      • Baggins Baggins says:

        Thank you. I’m writing up a sort of historical piece to post here in a minute, describing how we got here.

        Question; How far back do they want this data? My work files are flooded with amc fulfillment. The last amc order I ever accepted was in 2016. Please clarify time frames for this information disclosure request.

        Amc’s are out in the open with this activity. Have simple conversations and communications with the amc people, and they’ll be more than happy to tell the appraiser what the other appraisers lowest possible fee is, and ask if you can provide a lower fee. ‘How low can you go’? One could not actually be an appraiser, but call in pretending to be an appraiser, inquire about the fees paid in a specific location prior to applying, and get this same data.

        Some amc’s used to advertise a kick back of the fee rake to lenders, as an incentive to use that amc instead. I dealt with an amc just last month advertising that if an appraisers reference of a new lender client leads to more assignments for the amc to send out, the amc would kick back $25 per each appraisal request assigned, back to the appraiser whom referenced the lender client to the amc. That is just one example of the kind of junk fees amc’s have baked into the process.

        Any appraiser can slash their rate, take the majority of work opportunity away from their peers, take in incredible volume, outsource the majority of development duties, and profit. The entire amc model is built around sending disproportionate volume to the lowest priced appraisers. The rule is; Never ask what the borrower was charged.

        The various assignment platforms like Mercury, Scope, Regorra, Appraisal Port, and others have informational records regarding how many appraisers were sent bid requests for each individual appraisal, and volume based figures regarding the disproportionate amount of assignments per appraiser out there in relation to lenders. The data which assignment companies refuse to share with anyone; ‘How many other appraisers was this request sent to?’

        3
    22. Baggins Baggins says:

      Related, old post. ‘Anon’, you’re going to want to read this, and please forward to your people looking into this if you feel is helpful. Last summer I wrote a lengthy piece on the failure of the CFPB to reign in the amc model.

      https://appraisersblogs.com/fighting-tooth-n-nail-4-consumer-protection-n-the-appraisal-industry/#comment-38688

      The end is near. It’s going to take another housing crash before the central planners realize they did it wrong, again.

      0
    23. Avatar Honest Appraiser says:

      10 years ago we tried to get our state board to require that ALL AMC orders were required to be delivered with the Appraiser Invoice as page 1 of the report. We tried… The lack of disclosure that AMC’s even exist in the transaction to the consumer should be enough for a Class Action.

      5
    24. Avatar Josephine Bracken says:

      Buyers are getting very smart about what they are being charged in real estate transactions, just ask the agent community. About time AMC got sued by a buyer due to costing buyers excess fees. Day may be coming sooner than they think only takes one buyer and one smart attorney.

      2
    25. Avatar Dave says:

      Oh please – stop pretending that fee offers are half or less than in ’21 and ’22 – not someone else’s fault you were too stupid to bank it so you could ride out the half fee offers. As Nancy said, just say “NO” – not going to happen – the lambs are returning to their keepers!

      0

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